Home News Man pleads guilty to obstruction in murder case

Man pleads guilty to obstruction in murder case

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A sock was found in Mackay’s mouth while a belt had been tied around his nose and mouth

SENTENCED: Leonard Andrews, 20, will spend the next seven years behind bars for his role in the death of Riedwaan Mackay.

LEONARD Andrews, 20, was handed a seven-year prison sentence in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.

The NJ Heyns past pupil, who is currently serving a prison sentence for his third conviction for housebreaking, entered into a plea agreement which will see him testify against murder accused Christopher Ortell, 20, when the latter’s trial gets under way.

Ortell is charged with killing 19-year-old Kimberley resident Riedwaan Mackay in April last year.

The trials of the two accused were separated last week after Andrews pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against his co-accused, with the State and defence in agreement that a seven-year sentence was appropriate.

Ortell also made a brief appearance yesterday morning, when his case was remanded to the end of October in order for the high school pupil from Upington to undergo psychological evaluation, at the request of his legal representative, advocate Ferdi van Heerden.

In a statement, read to the court by his legal representative yesterday afternoon, Andrews admitted that he had assisted Ortell in hiding the offence as well as to lying to Mackay’s father when questioned about the whereabouts of the deceased.

Mackay, along with his VW Golf 7, was reported missing at the Kimberley police station on April 13 last year.

The car was discovered in West End, not far from his residence, three days later, before Andrews led police to Mackay’s body in the veld along the R31 road to Barkly West, not far from the Kalahari Lodge.

A sock was found in Mackay’s mouth while a belt had been tied around his nose and mouth.

An autopsy later revealed that he had sustained a long and potentially fatal cut to his head.

Subsequently, Ortell handed himself over to police in Rosedale, Upington and has already been in custody for more than a year after being denied bail in two separate applications in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court.

In his statement read into evidence in the Northern Cape High Court yesterday, Andrews admitted to assisting in transporting Mackay to this location and pleaded guilty to the charge of obstruction of justice.

While his age, willingness to assist in the investigation, the fact that he pleaded guilty to the offence and his current incarceration, following a conviction for housebreaking in April, were presented as mitigating factors, the court also took the seriousness of the offence and his three previous convictions into account.

The emotional pain and suffering of the deceased’s family was also noted as, after her son’s death, Mackay’s mother fell into a deep depression and died from an overdose of medication.

Before handing down the agreed upon sentence, Judge Vernon Smith said that the onus was on Andrews to mend his ways or risk facing much of his future behind bars.

“It’s time to decide how you want to live your life,” Smith told Andrews. “If things continue to proceed along this course your sentences are going to be getting longer.”

Smith sentenced the 20-year-old to seven years’ imprisonment, to be served concurrently with his current sentence, and deemed him unfit to possess a firearm.